“He was at the wrong place at the wrong place.”

Can this kind of sentence be the result of anything other than losing track of what has been said? Most writers have had that experience, but usually in sentences of 25 words or more. How can it happen in such a short space? How can the writer not notice it when reading the sentence over? Yet: it does, and he doesn’t.

Here’s another, one that Congress should probably pay attention to: “Not addressing these real world issues is more detrimental to society than not addressing them.”

Closing the circle in this way must come from some impulse, not just from total absence of mind while writing. I think the impulse is to be emphatic. From that point of view, the sentence has a certain effectiveness: it’s very tidy, feels almost like an epigram, and ends with the finality often suggested by repetition.

I don’t think I can get much more analytical than that, except to note that this kind of error does seem to come at a point in a paragraph or essay where the writer is reaching for a statement that is heartfelt and final. I’ll leave you with three more examples. I invite you to appreciate them for their energy, their structural tightness, and the firmness with which they close the circle of their thought, and then consider how persuasive they feel even though the only sense they make is self-definition:

“The answer cannot totally be answered.”

“I’d like to say that those people that are dead and buried because of so-called witchcraft are now dead.”

“Solution solved.”

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About RAB

Teacher of English writing and literature (college-level); academic-freedom activist; editor and copy editor; theater director, costumer, actress, playwright. View all posts by RAB

3 responses to ““He was at the wrong place at the wrong place.”

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